Summary: Misunderstandings of what Jesus ministry was all about.
A summary of the Lord’s ministry John 12: 37-43
The grade two class had their class picture taken and the teacher was trying to encourage them all to get their parents to buy one of these pictures by saying, “Someday you’ll look at this picture and you’ll say, ‘Why there’s Timmy, he’s a doctor now and there’s Jennifer, she owns her own business and there’s Mary, she’s married with two children.” And then one of the kids in the back of the room said just loud enough to be heard, “And there’s our teacher, she’s dead.” You know what they say, there’s one in every crowd.
I mentioned last week that I’ve been spending a lot of time at the mall and I’ve really been surprised at the number of retired people who hang out there every morning and I said there’s probably two or three hundred of them. A few go to walk but most of them are just hanging around. They either come with friends or they meet them there and then they all line up at Tim Horton’s. They get their coffee and then they all sit down in groups of anywhere from two to eight and most of them start scratching their lottery tickets.
All I can think of when I see them scratching these tickets is; what an empty existence. I mean, here are people who are closing in on the end of their days and they’re hoping to win a pile of money. I watched them and wondered why? Are they hoping to leave it to their kids so they can look like they’ve achieved something. My personal opinion is that a lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. I mean, you’re chances at winning anything substantial are about ten million to one.
I think the people at the mall are an awful lot like the people in this passage whose main concern was looking good. I mean, here were all these people standing in the presence of God Himself and it seems like all they wanted to do was to ask Him questions in order to show Him how smart they were. And rather than compliment them on their knowledge or argue with their misunderstandings Jesus ignored what they were asking and gave them both a word of encouragement and also a subtle rebuke when He told them to walk in the light and then warned them about the coming darkness. We see this in verses 35 and 36 where it says, “Then Jesus said unto them, yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whether he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” You see, He was encouraging them to follow the truth even though He knew they were hardened in their reaction to Him.
And then as Jesus left in verse 36 it says He went away and hid Himself. The scripture doesn’t say where He went but many commentators assume that He probably went back to Bethany to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. And as far as we know, nobody ever saw Him in public again, until He was taken captive by His enemies. I think it’s reasonable to believe that what motivated Him to hide at that time was that He wanted to enable the plan of God to happen how and when it was supposed to.
I say this because we’re told in verse 14 that the Pharisees had just decided that the time had come to get rid of Him but Jesus knew that according to the plan of His Father that a couple of days had to go by in order to fulfill all the prophecies concerning His death. So, getting away from this crowd seemed to be the smartest thing for Him to do.
You see, their unbelief wasn’t based on the fact that they didn’t understand what He was saying or hadn’t had enough of the truth but they didn’t believe in Jesus intentionally. They had decided not to believe. Their unbelief was an act of their will. I know I’ve seen people who’ve rejected the gospel and they said, “I’m sure it’s true, but the cost is more than I’m willing to pay.” You see, it’s not a case of their not understanding or not believing what they heard but it’s that they were not being willing to accept Jesus for who He is and what He demands.
So, these people rejected Jesus with their eyes wide open. After all, they heard all His teaching and saw all His miracles but they didn’t care. Did you know that there are thirty-six specific miracles recorded in the New Testament as well as a few places where it indicates that many more had been done that weren’t recorded. This tells us that Jesus performed miracles day after day and every miracle demonstrated that He was God. He showed His Lordship over the forces of nature as He walked on water, calmed the storms and told trees to dry up. He healed every kind of sickness and disability to the point that some Bible teachers believe that He totally eradicated disease in Israel during His three and a half year ministry. And then He demonstrated his power over Satan and all the evil spirits and finished off His ministry by showing that He had power even over death itself. And so, the unbelief of these people was nothing less than deliberate. I mean, how can you witness all this and then say you don’t believe. Well, I think the story is that it wasn’t so much that they didn’t believe as much as it was that they wouldn’t believe.